By Dasha Peipon
When parents celebrate their little ones, they do everything in their power to make this special day magical and unforgettable. Don’t you feel like you could reach the sky and get a star for your precious baby if that’s what she wanted for her birthday? In attempt to have a perfect birthday party, parents unnecessarily spend lots of resources. Many of us do our share to protect and preserve our planet. We do ok in our everyday life. We recycle, try to use less plastic bags (sometimes even bring reusable totes when grocery shopping), try not to waste water and power. But what about those special occasions? With all the decorations, paper goods and one-time use plastic trinkets that usually end up in the trash after the party, surely, we can do better! Here are suggestions for some easy small changes that will impact our world in a big way.
Décor: Add a splash of color!
Did you know all released balloons become hazardous litter? Animals and birds mistake balloons for food or get entangled in strings attached to them. Latex balloons are falsely-marketed as “natural” or “biodegradable”. Made with chemical additives, they last for years, poisoning the environment. Mylar or foil balloons can cause power outages and spark fires when they make contact with electrical power equipment.
Instead of using balloons, try decorating your party facility with flags, banners, streamers and dancing inflatables. For a burst of color, try tissue paper pompoms! These pretty colorful poof balls are so easy to make even kids can help. Another great way to decorate is bunting. These beautiful waves of fabric can be uniquely designed with different patterns, shapes, and colors. They are reusable and fun to make. And don’t forget about string lights and bubbles for a magical atmosphere. For more eco-friendly ideas to decorate, visit BalloonsBlow.org.
Gifts: Think creatively
It’s a good idea to donate for a good cause in lieu of giving gifts. But children don’t always appreciate the significance of it. If you want to avoid giving your child one more toy, which will most certainly be tossed and forgotten in piles of other toys, think creatively. Brett Edwards, aka Mr. Eco, became somewhat of an “eco-celebrity” after his ecology awareness videos became viral and his call to action started a real movement among children and teens. He suggests giving a child an experience rather than a material item: “Instead of handing him a wrapped gift, take your child to try something new.” It’s the memories you’re giving him. You can’t put a price on that.
Give a 5-year-old paper, markers, scissors, glue, paint, glitter – and see what happens. Children are creative by nature. They are always drawing, building, telling stories. Bring your little artists’ imagination to life – their excitement will top the joy from getting any new toy. You can put your child’s drawing on a mug, get his story published or put together a photo book with all the artwork from the school year (well, maybe just the favorite pieces, otherwise you might need five photo books).
Mr. Eco did something special for his nephew’s fifth birthday. “He loves playing with action figures and makes up stories about them as he “fights” them. I hired an illustrator through Upwork to bring one of his stories to life. As a result, my nephew got his own comic book. I wanted to show him that the ideas in his head could be brought to life for others to see.” The excitement on a child’s face, when he can see and touch his creation, is truly priceless. But think of the encouragement you’ll be giving him. The child who knows his ideas are noticed and appreciated will keep creating always.
Party favors: Practical and fun
Ok, so you’ve succeeded in decorating with reusable colorful party accessories (imagine: even without the balloons!) and coming up with a meaningful memorable gift. But what about party favors? It is not a necessary component for every celebration but is somewhat customary for a child’s birthday party. If there are twenty or more guests invited, filling those favor bags may become a bit pricey. It doesn’t have to be. There are options that are both useful and exciting for the little ones to receive, and budget-friendly, too. Dominika Parry, President and CEO of 2C Mississippi made party favors for her child’s party herself: “The theme was LEGO. I collected all the broken crayons at home and made crayon LEGOs using silicon molds I ordered online. My kids had a great time coming up with color combinations of crayons to melt. On other occasion, I used those same molds to make chocolate Legos!” Of course, Pinterest also has lots of ideas for easy to make practical gifts and party-themed sweet treats.
May your princesses and pirates have the best time celebrating their birthdays. And may they learn to love and appreciate the world around them from the examples their parents show them.
Dasha Peipon scored big time when she gave her 7-year-old a cushion with his own artwork on it. It cost $7 to order the custom cover from Amazon, and she used one of the many cushions she already had at home. The cushion is proudly displayed in the young artist’s room and judging by the level of appreciation for it, will go to college with him one day.